This was a special quest for me on so many different levels. It’s on my ridiculously long bucket list, one of my Georgia quests and, something that I’ve wanted to do for years but never had the opportunity to go. Not to mention finding someone adventurous enough to go with me. It was also the second day of the 30th year of someone special to me. Who just so happens is equally as adventurous as me. Or crazy, depending on how you look at it.
There will never be enough words that I could use to describe the pure adrenaline rush and the absolutely amazing feeling that you have when you’re standing at the edge of a plane; The door is open, the air is rushing in, you’re looking down from 14,000 feet and you know in just a few seconds you’ll be plunging down to the tiny world below you. If anyone can describe this, please give me the words.
I flew through clouds. Clouds, people. For a brief moment, that felt like an eternity, I was flying in that big sky I look up at every day. I don’t look at that sky the same way anymore. I now know what it’s like up there, without a plane surrounding me. I also seemed to acquire this sense of confidence. What am I afraid of about x, y or z? I jumped from a plane. I absolutely can handle this.
Let me tell you about my experience and the amazing people at Skydive Atlanta. Hold tight for a ride and if you feel even the slightest urge to do this, go. It seems crazy, it really is crazy, others will tell you that you’re crazy, you probably are crazy to begin with, but just go. You will not regret it and I would have paid so much more for this opportunity multiple times over.
Booking this adventure was so simple considering I would be signing up to jump out of a plane. You don’t pay anything up front, it’s just a simple registration. The summer can be a tricky beast of pop up thunderstorms. So if you’re planning on jumping during the perpetual 20% chance of rain days, you may consider an early morning jump. It’s not as hot and you don’t run the risk of needing to reschedule. If you go in the Autumn months, it’s warmer to go in the afternoon. I knew it would be a lot cooler at 14,000 feet but it’s one thing to know and another to feel the cold air rushing through the open door on the plane.
I ended up doing the standard video and photo package but if you go up to the next level you can pick your own song. If that’s something important to you, it’s worth the extra bucks. The guys who took the video and photos were absolutely wonderful! The process once we got there was very quick and the only painful part was stepping on the weight scale. This is the moment when I turned to Luke and said something to the effect of, if you dare look at this I will gut you and then deposit you in bits out of the plane.
The rest of the time prior to boarding was spent getting to know the proper position when jumping, safety and the general “please don’t do this”and “There’s no guarantee you won’t die but you probably won’t” sort of thing. You get to know your instructor and photographer/videographer. Before you jump, if you have a video package, you say a few things in front of the camera and pretend you’re not as awkward as you probably feel. Then it’s off to the plane!
Now that the particulars are over with first let me say that I absolutely anticipated having a few minutes of panic. There was a brief moment but it was short lived and completely irrational. They had dropped a few people and the plane was circling back up to altitude so we could jump at 14,000 feet, the door was wide open and I was sitting at the edge of the bench in the plane. It was at this point, with the ground so clearly below and the door wide open, cold air gushing through, it occurred to me that I was afraid of falling out accidentally. Even though we had all the gear on and falling out accidentally wouldn’t have been much different than just jumping out. The logic my brain used was completely absurd but there it was. The instructors spent the whole plane trip telling funny stories, which I’m sure they were tired of telling but I’m guessing the idea was to keep our minds from venturing too deep into what we were about to do and prevent fear from setting in.
A few minutes later we were hobbling penguin style over to the door. There I was, feet at the edge of a plane, looking down trying to remember the sequence of movements I needed to do when we jumped. Oddly enough, the fact that I was jumping from a plane wasn’t entirely on my mind. It was the movements I needed to do when we jumped that became obsessive to me. The only thing I just simply couldn’t remember was to look at the damn camera guy during my free-fall. I was so enthralled with everything below me that I completely forgot someone was trying to get photos of me. So if you go, look at the bloody camera guy! You can see in the video (click here) that this was a problem straight off the bat.
The descent is about 55-60 seconds and while the video is short and the idea of one minute seems sort, it was incredibly long. The parachute opened and I was told that’s when some people get a little nauseous but I was lucky and didn’t experience anything except for having no filter on my mouth. I repeatedly told my instructor how everything looked like when I have my Oculus VR (Virtual Reality) on. Full nerd. I’m fairly sure I did the whole finger squeezing of tiny objects below me while repeatedly saying, “Look how tiny that plane is down there!” Steve, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry!
The landing isn’t like what you might imagine. Never fear about landing on your feet because you land flat on your bum. It’s more like a soft landing and skid type situation. I’ve never been so grateful for some extra bum padding as I was that day. The rest of the day I kept looking up at the sky thinking, I jumped from a plane up there and flew through the clouds. The sentence, “We jumped from a plane today” was said no less than fifty times.
This was singularly one of the greatest moments of my 30 years on this earth. I know there will be many moments that will surpass this in the future but for now, I can honestly say I had the best day of my life.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” – Da Vinci